POLITICS are normally a serious affair, and this is no different in Japan. The seriousness of it all can sometimes be translated as dull, so one Japanese politician is determined to cut through the boredom with none other than the country’s favorite animal: the cat.
Satoshi Shima, a former member of the Japanese Parliament, is now running to represent the Mikawa region in the Aichi Prefecture in the upcoming elections, due before or on December 13, 2018.
Candidates distribute their posters around the areas in which they are campaigning. The posters usually look similar, featuring a picture of their face and a slogan.
— るかるる守護霊の霊言 (@rukaruru) July 5, 2016
Shima, however, had different ideas. His campaign poster features, along with his face and a slogan, a picture of a fluffy white cat with different colored eyes.
— 島さとし（嶋聡） (@satoshi_shima) July 5, 2016
According to a translation by gaming site Kotaku.com, the slogan declares that someone has “returned home”, but it is not known whether it refers to Shima or the cat.
The posters are quickly gaining publicity among Japanese media and the public, who appear both confused and pleased with the novelty of Shima’s campaign.
— もりっちぃ (@moritty2) June 23, 2016
According to Shima, anyone who finds his white cat poster will “become happy”, and that they have been distributed predominantly in the Mikawa district.
There are two types of white cat posters, but the one in which the cat is larger than Shima himself is apparently rare. He said in a tweet that they are also known as “money cats”.
Shima has also plastered the feline mascot on the side of his campaign van. It is unclear if he is actually campaigning with a real live cat, which is sure to disappoint some of his supporters.
— 島さとし（嶋聡） (@satoshi_shima) July 4, 2016
Shima’s strategy to include cat imagery doesn’t seem to be merely for entertainment – cats have long held a revered position in Japanese society.
In Japanese folklore, cats are believed to have protective powers and are a symbol of luck and good fortune, hence the country’s infatuation with the felines.